Four-Year Anniversary

Four-Year Anniversary

Maithil and I got married 4 years ago, today. Happy Anniversary to my partner in crime, my cheerleader, my other (and often better) half, and my best friend! Our marriage is a constant work in progress which evolves as we endure the ups, downs, turns, and road bumps. Some of our main goals in the past four year and moving forward are:
- always tell each other the truth
- keep the lines of communication active and open
- try not to dump our frustrations on each other (key word: try)
- make uninterrupted 1-on-1 time for each other

In our four years as Mr. and Mrs., below are the 4 things we have learned about the other person:

Pooja about Maithil:

1. When he is upset or angry, it is best to leave him alone. He will come to me to talk about it on his own time. Forcing him to chat is never a good idea.
2. He is not a multi-tasker. He prefers to focus on one task at a time.
3. He is a logical, rational problem-solver. Present him with an issue and he will look to solve it. Not having a solution or a plan of action can make him uncomfortable.
4. He hates folding laundry! Although he had gotten much better at it over the years.

Maithil about Pooja:

1. When she is upset and wants to discuss a problem, for the majority of the time, she is not looking for a solution, she just needs me to listen. Learning when to respond or just listen has been a challenge I’m still trying to conquer.
2. She hates doing the dishes. Though she will clean them because a dirty sink is something she hates more, secretly she wants me to do them whenever I can.
3. Though this is a bit cliché, she does not have a very good sense of direction. She can never leave home without Google Maps!
4. She is extremely loyal and caring. As a friend, she will go out of her way when a friend is in need. As my wife, I never have to wonder if she still loves me as much as she loved me before getting married. As a mother, she exhausts herself mentally and physically to ensure that Rian is being raised in a way where he will be able to make most out of life. I couldn’t have found a more perfect match for me.

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The Importance of a Solo Date

The Importance of a Solo Date

Before Rian, Maithil and I had pretty active social lives, both with and without each other. Post-Rian, my social life has certainly dwindled. For example, we can no longer both meet friends for dinner during the hours of 7-9pm as it conflicts with Rian’s bedtime routine. We always tell each other that both of us don’t need to be home for this but I know I always end up feeling guilty. Sure I’ve gotten drinks with friends and co-workers post-work but I’ve always rushed home to see Rian before he goes to sleep. Maithil has been away for a family wedding as well as a week-long business trip and he always comes back refreshed and recharged. Now that Rian is older, I am starting to feel a little better about going on solo outings myself.

I recently had an early weekend dinner with my close friend Ben and his new beau, Connor – all my myself. They have been dating for a few months and given our hectic schedules, I hadn’t even had the chance to meet Connor. Hesitant at first, and with a lot of encouragement from Maithil, I told myself that I had to do this. On the train ride there, I felt like I was missing something (oh ya, like a diaper bag and my two boys). On my walk over to Co., my favorite fancy pizza spot in the city, I felt almost liberated and caught myself walking with a little pep in my step. I felt polished, confident and calm; it took me back to my pre-mom days. I had a wonderfully peaceful, conversation filled dinner with Ben and Connor. I did check my phone a few times and I opted to take the earlier train rather than going for a post-dinner stroll, but for my first solo date, I think I fared well.

With a demanding full-time job, I always want to spend as much of my “free” time on the weekends and weeknights with Rian as possible. However, I had forgotten the importance of making time for myself without feeling guilty or selfish. While being a mom is now a big part of my identity, it is certainly not my only title. Maintaining a proper balance is key and that is something I need to work on both for myself and so that I can teach Rian by example.

The hunger-inducing image is the seasonal Strawberry and Ricotta Toast from Co.

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Where Would You Love to Live?

Where Would You Love to Live?

From time to time, when our commute into the city is delayed, when people are rude at stores or restaurants, when we think about how much we pay in taxes, or when the weather is less than ideal, to name a few instances, Maithil and I start day-dreaming of moving to a place where the sun is usually shining, the people are nicer and the overall pace of life is bit more laid back.

Image from Babson College

Image from Babson College

San Francisco currently tops our list. We visited about two years ago and everything from the food to the culture to the people put a smile on our faces. For example, we stopped to ask for directions on our way out from the Ferry Building and ended up chatting with a local almond farmer who has been selling at the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building for a few years. He told us about how he got started and how he is now transitioning the business to his son. He was not a fan of NYC and fully supported our dreams of a move.

Barton Springs Pool in Austin - A man-made recreational pool measuring 3 acres; Image from austintexas.gov

Barton Springs Pool in Austin – A man-made recreational pool measuring 3 acres; Image from austintexas.gov

Austin, TX is the second place on our list. Neither one of us has ever been there but we have only ever heard positive things. I recently even read that something like 110 people move to Austin every day. Whoa! Our good friend, Eric, is down there for about three months renovating his brother’s house. We will certainly have to pick his brain once he is back and plan a visit there soon.

The other place on the list is North Carolina (perhaps Asheville, to be more specific). Maithil lived there with his sister when he was in high school and has great memories of the scenic town. Asheville has come a long way in the nearly two decades since he was a resident. It has grown to be a lot more diverse, the downtown is home to great eateries and breweries, and there are endless ways in which to explore and enjoy the picturesque outdoors (we would be just east of the Smoky Mountains).

We are not moving anywhere anytime soon. New Jersey is home for now. We love being close to family and we love NYC far too much. But, it is always fun to dream! Where would you ideally love to live?

Top Image from Love and Whimsy

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Mr. Monday: Mini Edition

Mr. Monday: Mini Edition

Maithil and I both grew up in India and moved here when we were 13 and 8, respectively. We both speak our native language as well Hindi, the national language; we can also understand our regional dialects. We are trying out best to speak in our tongue, Gujarati, at home so that Rian can be fluent. But, as we have seen with many families, this is not easy when the child is not exposed to that language anywhere else (especially in school). We hope to educate Rian about our culture and traditions through the celebration of holidays, visits to the temple, holidays to India, and story-telling by grandparents and relatives. I want him to feel equal parts American and Indian.

We documented Rian’s first birthday with a family photo shoot. Rian certainly stole the show, especially in his outfit inspired by Lord Krishna. He is the best to dress up since he rarely protests about the outfits I pick for him – his only requirements are comfort and ease of movement. His grand-aunt from California also sent some other Indian outfits that I cannot wait for him to wear!

Rian_swing

Rian_looking

Rian_smile

Rian_praying

All images by: Biz Jones

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Brunch Date: Jack’s Wife Freda

Brunch Date: Jack’s Wife Freda

Maithil and I recently had a chance to go on a weekend brunch date. We used to be great about planning dates. Post Rian, dates are more spontaneous and revolve around his schedule. Some parents make it a point to have date night once a week. What is your secret to keeping that weekly commitment?

We dropped Rian off with my parents and made our way to Soho to have a late brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda. The wait was about thirty-five minutes at this bustling hot spot. Both the host at the front door as well as our server were sweet and helpful, but not over-bearing. The menu is filled with simple dishes with an elegant twist that elevate the familiar, comforting ingredients. Communal, family-style seating makes for tight, loud quarters. If you plan on having a personal, intimate conversation, this is probably not the place for it (although, odd as it sounds, it’s so noisy that it’s almost intimate). For us, we didn’t care who overheard – we had one of the best conversations we’d had in a while.

The dishes are portioned for one and given the fact we were starving, it only made sense to order three entrees. Each was flavored just right and left you feeling satisfied.

The Mashed Avocado on Seeded Bread, with cherry tomato jam, pickled carrots, and za’atar, as well as a side of fries, was hearty, creamy, and had just a touch of tang. It's a great spin on the traditional avocado toast sprinkled with crushed red pepper.

The Mashed Avocado on Seeded Bread, with cherry tomato jam, pickled carrots, and za’atar, as well as a side of fries, was hearty, creamy, and had just a touch of tang. It’s a great spin on the traditional avocado toast sprinkled with crushed red pepper.

The Mediterranean Breakfast with 2 eggs any style, chopped salad, labne, avocado and pita bread was uncomplicated and light. The creamy labne added that special touch. Egg and cheese lovers will never miss the traditional cheese in this dish.

The Mediterranean Breakfast with 2 eggs any style, chopped salad, labne, avocado and pita bread was uncomplicated and light. The creamy labne added that special touch. Egg and cheese lovers will never miss the traditional cheese in this dish.

The Rosewater Waffle topped with lebanese yogurt, mixed berries and honey syrup was light, airy, and oh-so fragrant. The killer rosewater-honey syrup combination made me weak in the knees. I love dark, genuine maple syrup but I would trade that in for this stuff any day.

The Rosewater Waffle topped with lebanese yogurt, mixed berries and honey syrup was light, airy, and oh-so fragrant. The killer rosewater-honey syrup combination made me weak in the knees. I love dark, genuine maple syrup but I would trade that for this stuff any day.

We topped off our meal with the Flourless Chipotle Chocolate Cake with chocolate mousse. It's what the sound "mmmm" is made of. No further description needed.

We topped off our meal with the Flourless Chipotle Chocolate Cake with chocolate mousse. It’s what the sound “mmmm” is made of. No further description needed. A must for all lovers of chocolate.

During our meal, Maithil also got half a pint of Hoegaarden – it’s the perfect sized drink for a big meal. Smart offering Freda.

Jack’s Wife Freda lived up to all of it’s praise. We can’t wait to return on another date, this time for dinner. Jack, you are one lucky man to have Freda cooking for you!

Food Tally: Mashed Avocado on Seeded Bread, $11; Mediterranean Breakfast, $13; Rosewater Waffle, $10; Flourless Chipotle Chocolate Cake, $7; Hoegaarden, $4; Total = $45 without tax and tip.

Score: 4.75/5

Address: 224 Lafayette Street, NYC, jackswifefreda.com

jwf

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Mr. Monday: 3 Borrowed Must Haves

Mr. Monday: 3 Borrowed Must Haves

How was your long weekend? Having an extra day off makes such a huge difference! The polar vortex forced us to stay indoors for the majority of the weekend which meant lots of uninterrupted playtime with Rian. One of his new favorite activities is playing hide-and-seek; the element of surprise makes him laugh aloud every time.

I had auto-scheduled this Mr. Monday post but choosing AM instead of PM meant no post. Sincere apologies.

—xxx—

As I stepped out of the shower, it hit me. Some of my favorite bathroom products are “men’s” products. They are specifically marketed towards men but trust me, they are just as great for women. Thank you, Maithil for helping me discover these gems.

Men’s soap: I love Dove soaps, especially in the winter, for their moisturizing qualities. The Dove Men + Care Body and Face Bar, Deep Clean also has purifying grains that gently exfoliate. Also, unlike other Dove soap bars, this one does not easily melt. Ideal for both your body and face (I only use it for my body).

dove

Men’s razor: This is a no brainer. Men’s razors have more blades and they don’t seem to dull as quickly. Gillette Fusion Proglide Men’s Razor is the one I’m currently using and loving. You will never return to a women’s razor again.

gillette

Men’s Deodorant: They do not make just deodorant for women. It’s always antiperspirant deodorant, which basically clog your sweat ducts (and some believe could lead to breast cancer). But would you only need a deodorant? Nothing. Old Spice High Endurance Men’s Deodorant is great and it surprisingly smells good on as well. (Some reading on antiperspirant vs. deodorant here and here.)

old spice

Do you have any products that are borrowed from the men in your life? Do tell.

Top Image: I also love men’s dopp kits. They are very roomy and perfect for stuffing all of my travel toiletries needs. This hidden message one, by Owen & Fred, always makes me smile.

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You & Me: A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

You & Me: A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. Like most holidays, I enjoy it for its festive nature but I dislike the pressure associated with it. At its core, it is a dedicated day to celebrate your love for your loved ones (we should be doing this year-round and not just one day a year). Though expensive presents or fancy dinners are nice to have, they should certainly not be the main focus. Rather, the focus should be on spending time together, doing something fun, and just expressing your love and gratitude for each other. Below are a few thoughtful and creative Valentine’s Day options for husbands, wives, kids, parents, friends, and crushes:

  1. Dinner and Fancy Dessert: You and your loved one each pick up a dessert – be sure to keep it secret. You prepare and enjoy a meal together. The dessert serves as a great surprise at the end of the meal!
    Or you can pick up some takeout and make dessert at home, like these Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

    Or you can pick up some takeout and make dessert at home, like these Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

  2. Provide each other with one or more “Favor Coupons” to be cashed in at any time. Favors can include: massages, doing the dishes, slow dancing in the living room after a long day, folding all of the laundry, 15 minutes of uninterrupted making out, etc.
  3. A hand-written note (no typing allowed) stating why you appreciate the other person. Be sure to include some of the small things that probably otherwise go unnoticed.
  4. A customized date: see details, with a fantastic promo, below. 

Last year, I had purchased a palm-reading date through You&Me Concierge, is a membership-based service and e-commerce site that creates, aggregates, and provides one-of-a-kind experiences geared towards couples. Unfortunately, I gave birth prior to my due date and we were never able to go on our date. You&Me Concierge was actually wonderful about refunding the cost of the date due to the un-foreseen circumstances – kudos on amazing customer service! This year, I am really gravitating towards A Chocolate Love Affair. De-li-cious!

As an exclusive to all 17 Parkside readers, You&Me Concierge is offering an additional $40 off members-only pricing on their favorite Valentine’s Day packages to all new and existing members.  When you purchase one of these date packages, your monthly membership will become effective immediately, giving you access to book unique dates as well as members-only free dates.**

you&me

Here are all of the details, courtesy of You&Me Concierge! Enjoy your dates!

1)Use this url to activate the promotion: http://youandmeconcierge.com/datebook?promo=iaennjpuyuzty

2) If you are already a registered paying member of YAMC or non-paying registered user of YAMC then you will simply need to login with you username and password to start browsing the “Datebook”.  If you have never signed up with us before, simply click the “sign up” button in the far right hand corner and create an account before proceeding.

3) Once logged in, all of our dates will appear from our NY datebook.  All dates included in our promotion will have a blue slash across the member price and the discounted price will appear next to it.

4)  To purchase a promotional package, click “book this date” and head to check out.  Registered non-paying/new users will be charged the promo price plus the $18 recurring monthly fee and returning members will only be charged the promotional price.

**As always, your recurring monthly membership can be cancelled at any time by emailing support@youandmeconcierge.  Promotion expires on 2/15/15.

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Mr. Monday: Valentine’s Day

Mr. Monday: Valentine’s Day

My first job out of college was as an assistant in the merchandising department at Coach. I still remember some of the girls belaboring about the perfect outfit for Valentine’s Day. Red or pink had to incorporated into the outfit but neither should be overpowering. Invaluable lesson indeed! Maithil’s pop of red with a dark blue and tan base says festive without being too over-the-top. His ensemble is a balanced palette of hues (and price points).

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Patterned Chambray Shirt: and Belt: Old Navy / Pants: Club Monaco (Davis Slim Fit, similar here and here) / Wool Coat: Cardinal of Canada at Nordstrom / Shoes: Urban Outfitters / Watch: Burberry (similar)

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One Ingredient Peanut Butter

One Ingredient Peanut Butter

As a kid, I was very curious about peanut butter. Why? I grew up in India and in the late 80s/early 90s, there was no brand that even came close to the real thing that you get here. I credit my mother for my fascination. She would always tell me stories about her older sister bringing her jars of smooth, creamy peanut butter every time she visited her in Mumbai from Texas. She said that it was the most delicious treat, best enjoyed on a piece of toast or just by the spoonful. I still remember us picking up my first bottle from a fancy store in Calcutta. It tasted like stale, greasy, coarsely ground peanuts. Never again! I told myself that I would never eat this butter made from peanuts again.

TJs peanuts

After having my first spoonful of “American” peanut butter at the age of 8, a week after we moved across the ocean, I finally realized that my mother was not totally nuts. Rather, I realized exactly what she was raving about. Currently, one of my favorite’s is one that is homemade with just one ingredient and one tool. That’s it, I promise. It’s made with Trader Joe’s honey roasted peanuts. You place a bag full in the food processor and blend them until smooth. The result is an ever-so slightly grainy, sweet-and-salty blend of nutty flavors.

peanuts process

peanuts processed

I stored mine in a mason jar. Please note that, similar to most natural peanut butters, the oils will build up on the top. Be sure to mix thoroughly before enjoying. Warning: This may turn into your new guilty pleasure!

peanut butter

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Mr. Monday: Blue & Green

Mr. Monday: Blue & Green

I am often asked about men’s style, especially by colleagues who are trying to maintain a business-casual-chic sensibility. Many even wonder if I “dress” my husband. The only man in my life that I actively dress is my son, Rian. Maithil has always had a great sense of style but he has grown more accustom to venturing out of his comfort zone after meeting me. I must confess that, at times, I enjoy shopping for him even more than I do for myself. This new Monday series, aptly named, Mr. Monday, explores men’s fashion and style, and will hopefully provide inspiration for your everyday wardrobe (to both male and female readers, alike).

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What started as an easy winter has quickly spiraled into when-will-these-sheets-of-black-ice-finally-melt? Maithil has been logically dressing in layers to keep warm. But, this does pose an ever-present challenge: How can you dress in layers without looking too bulky? His look this Sunday, in support of the Seahawks for Super Bowl XLIX (what a heartbreaking loss!), included a monotone navy color palette with a touch of light army green (the Seahawks blue and green are a lot brighter) and brown tones to ground the look. A cozy sweater with a shawl collar topped with a puffer vest kept him toasty without feeling heavy. His main accessory was his Hermes watch, a wedding present from his sisters. The main trick to dressing in layers seems to be creating a balance of different weights and textures. There is a lot of room to play and you will never really know what something looks like until you try it on.

Maithil green and blue

m collar

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Maithil_snow_walkingShawl Collar Sweater: J.Crew (similar here and here) / Puffer Vest: GAP (similar)/ Slim Jeans: Seven For All Mankind / Shoes: Clark’s / Watch: Hermes (similar face, different band) / Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

 

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